We have just passed midwinter and what better time to pause and reflect on the passing auction year and the new year about to begin. Looking backwards at past successes is a rare indulgence, and what a great year 2017 has proved to be; one that lot-wise began with Anson's Voyages and ended with Virginia Woolf. Against a never-ending backdrop of unsettling world news we have sorted, valued, catalogued and sold in excess of 10,000 lots over the last twelve months. Uncertainty in the salerooms over recent years has been replaced by a surprising robustness and confidence stretching across all commodities at all price levels. While it remains true that the very rare and highest quality collectors' items continue to command stupendous prices, it is pleasing to see that the lower and mid-range value lots are also drawing determined bids.
Technology and the internet is a constant point of discussion, as is the ever-changing auction house landscape, the prospect of new regulations and, of course, Brexit. How much internet bidding has improved things is a moot point. Certainly, the public are able to find and bid on things worldwide with increasing ease and confidence as the online bidding technology improves. In turn, this means that a picture and a few words are sometimes all it takes to draw in a worldwide audience who may not take note of condition or estimate in the same way as the experienced dealer and collector more familiar with these items. We believe that our combined knowledge, experience, passion and expertise will continue to thrive in harmony with technology. There still exists a strong demand to view and handle books, pictures and objects themselves, even if more of the actual bidding is now done remotely. The positive effect is that in spite of the occasional lower saleroom attendances, bidding can be ferocious across commission bids, telephone and internet. Our sold lot rate has been consistently and remarkably high, endorsing our knowledge of the market and rewarding our customer loyalty.
The following brochure picks out just a small number of highlights from our 22 auctions this year. Each cataloguer will have their own favourite stories and memories, but in a few years' time 2017 will likely be remembered as the year we sold the library of Richard Adams, our major single-owner sale of the year. Almost a white glove sale, the magnificent reception and numerous approving comments about the catalogue strengthens our belief in the merit and importance of scholarly research and careful presentation. We end the year with a spring in our step and look forward with high excitement to the extraordinary stories we will be revealing to you in 2018, and to the as yet undiscovered treasures we will encounter.
Chris Albury & Nathan Winter
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